Why Jordan Shields Terrorist Ahlam Tamimi From Extradition to US
A small group of Republican members of Congress have been trying to right a great wrong by demanding that Jordan extradite Sbarro massacre mastermind Ahlam Tamimi to the United States. But as a proud and unrepentant murderer of Jews — including two American citizens — Ahlam Tamimi has many admirers, and it unfortunately seems that the Jordanian government has no interest in turning over this unrepentant terrorist.
This case not only reveals a lot about the continuing glorification of terrorism against Israel in the Middle East, but it also provides a depressing example that appeasing extremists is perhaps all too often regarded as prudent policy and diplomacy.
Tamimi, who planned and facilitated the 2001 suicide bombing that killed 15 people, including 7 children, and injured 130 at a Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem, has enjoyed the life of a celebrity ever since she was released in the controversial 2011 deal Israel struck in order to free Hamas hostage Gilad Shalit.
As reported on the Islamist website MEMO, Ahlam’s release was a reason to celebrate for the Tamimi clan of the West Bank village Nabi Saleh — not least because another terrorist member of the clan was also released, and the murderous couple got married in Amman, Jordan. Right after her release, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal met with her in Cairo, and when she arrived in Jordan, she received a hero’s welcome, including a reception in her honor at the Jordanian Law Court building.
Tamimi’s status as a Palestinian “hero” made it easy for her to start a TV career hosting a show that glorified Palestinian terrorists, and she reportedly got to travel “widely and often within Jordan and to numerous Arab countries — including repeat visits to Algeria, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Tunisia and Yemen — speaking to school and university groups, trade unions, and on TV — boasting of her central role in the massacre, of the high death toll and of her intention to kill Jewish children.”
Some three years ago, when the US first demanded Tamimi’s extradition after it was announced that she was on the FBI’s list of Most Wanted Terrorists, she responded by proudly displaying her extremist Islamist views in an interview with a site that promotes the ideology of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood. She declared that, “Our war with the Zionist enemy is an ideological war from the days of the Prophet Muhammad to now.”
Obviously enough, there were no “Zionists” in the days of Muhammad — which means that what Tamimi actually claims is that murderous Jew-hatred is an integral part of Islam. Needless to say, this is a view that would normally be rejected as Islamophobic, and it would surely appall the Muslim faith leaders who have recently taken welcome steps to “foster a new era in Muslim-Jewish relations.”
Since King Abdullah of Jordan claims “to be a 41st-generation direct descendant of Muhammad” and is supposedly “promoting interfaith dialogue and a moderate understanding of Islam,” he would arguably also have reason to take offense at Tamimi’s view of Islam’s founder as a murderous Jew-hater.
Moreover, as far as Tamimi is concerned, Jordan is merely “a vein of Palestine.” But as dismissive as this may sound, she is obviously right to believe that Abdullah’s Jordan is a pretty good place for the killers of Jews. Less than two weeks before Tamimi’s 2017 interview at the Muslim Brotherhood site, Jordanian authorities released a soldier who had killed seven Israeli schoolgirls in 1997 from prison. The unrepentant killer was reportedly “greeted by chanting supporters who kissed him on the cheek and raised a photo of him with the caption, ‘Welcome to the hero Daqamseh.'”
The families of three US Special Forces troops who were killed by a Jordanian soldier at a military base in Jordan in 2016 are therefore right to worry that the murderer of their sons will eventually also be released from prison. These families have recently joined the efforts to pressure Jordan to extradite Tamimi.
While the Trump administration has reportedly indicated that it would consider withholding some of the $1.3 billion in annual US aid to the country if Jordan continues to refuse to extradite Tamimi, it’s far from clear this will happen. And King Abdullah can count on an international diplomatic chorus — including all too many Israeli diplomats — that will reject any serious pressure as a reckless move that would risk weakening the king while agitating the Islamist extremists who are eager to topple him. Few will be questioning how wise it is to appease these extremists by confirming their belief that a murderous terrorist like Tamimi is a heroic role model.
As The Algemeiner recently reported, Arnold and Frimet Roth — whose 15-year-old daughter Malki was one of Tamimi’s victims — have launched an online petition demanding that Jordan honor its extradition treaty with the US. Even if the chances are slim that Tamimi will finally have to face justice in the US for the murderous terror attack she has been boasting of for almost 20 years, each and every signature on this petition is a rejection of the craven appeasement of the murderous Islamist extremism Tamimi stands for.